The importance and impact of making connections with students

Positive teacher-student relationships have many long-term impacts. We know from years of research that when students have at least one supportive and caring adult relationship, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged in school and to develop the social and emotional competencies needed for life-long resilience. 

At this week’s California Charter Schools Conference, the Along team joined with Dr. Stacey Perez, principal of Classical Academy High School, and Kellye Bojorquez, English lead teacher and ELD provider at Classical Academy High School, to discuss why connecting with students is so critical—particularly as we deal with ongoing pandemic stressors in our schools.

The panel session, entitled “The Importance and Impact of Making Connections with Students,” began with a lively audience interaction about the power of mentors. As attendees shared the qualities that their mentors had that made them impactful in their life, it became clear that there is truly no “one size fits all” definition of what a mentor is. For educators, however, being a mentor tends to focus on how to show students that we care for them, support them, and help them to grow.

The panelists from Classical Academy shared that their students just do better overall when they are mentored, and that the importance of connections and community has become even more important over the course of the pandemic. Dr. Perez said, “Students need to feel safe and valued. It’s important that they know that somebody believes in them and that they don’t feel judged.” 

Both Dr. Perez and her colleague Ms. Bojorquez, committed to using Along as a way to augment their mentoring focus at Classical Academy. Bojorquez said, “Students and I can communicate in whatever way, time, and day that works for us. Along is a great way to make that vital connection and communication available no matter when or how we need to make it happen. It’s a game changer.”

Through regular mentoring and the use of Along, the educators at Classical Academy are building strong, positive development relationships with their students. The term “developmental relationships” is defined as “close connections through which young people discover who they are, gain abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to interact with and contribute to the world around them.” 

Along’s School and District Partnerships Manager, Jared Chandler, provided details about the Developmental Relationships Framework which was created by the Search Institute. Through its five elements—Express Care, Share Power, Challenge Growth, Expand Possibilities, and Provide Support—educators can take specific, concrete actions to build relationships with their students. Attendees shared examples of actions they are currently taking that already emphasize the elements of the Developmental Relationships Framework, and discussed ways to incorporate new activities into their classrooms that focus on relationship-building. 

Along was built specifically to provide educators with an easy, fun, and free way to build relationships. Though we’re about halfway through the spring semester, it’s never too late to build positive relationships with students. 

To find out more, visit Along.org to explore the tool today!